BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 24, 2020– There is “politics” in every area of human endeavor, but if there was ever any doubt, the events of the past weekend would definitely indicate that where the sport of football is concerned, electoral politics takes precedence.
Football games and related events have been postponed in the past due to various reasons – weather, protests or appeals, etc. And the State of Emergency declared last week by Government was quite explicit – no gathering of more than ten individuals. The threat of Covid-19 is real, and some Congress members had declared on the record their concern for health and safety in regard to the scheduled Football Federation of Belize (FFB) Elective Congress set for this past Saturday, August 22, at San Ignacio Hotel. No less than the Prime Minister of Belize, in a virtual press conference on Friday, had declared categorically that no such Congress would be allowed to take place, despite the fact that the FFB had reportedly already received the go-ahead from the Police Commissioner after they made certain provisions in their meeting procedures in San Ignacio. But the FFB would not be denied; too much, it seems, depended on these elections being held now; and they subsequently gained official approval from the Attorney General after proposing to move the event to FFB headquarters and presenting an elaborate set of plans and protocols, including going outdoors, for ensuring social distancing and individual sanitization of each individual attending the Congress.
In normal circumstances, the incumbents would be glad for any excuse to postpone elections, so that their term could be legitimately extended. But these are special circumstances, where the politics in football suggested that the incumbents felt very confident of a victory now, while the situation might be less favorable if postponed another two months, the required notice by FFB statutes. With 7 football districts having 2 votes each, and the Premier League of Belize (PLB) wielding 7 votes, those 7 PLB votes were all but guaranteed for the FFB incumbents on Saturday; but the PLB has its own impending elections, and a change in PLB leadership might result in a loss of those 7 votes in favor of the present FFB incumbents. Thus the urgency of this past weekend’s FFB elections, despite the national State of Emergency.
With bright sunny weather, all apparently went smoothly at Saturday’s FFB Elective Congress at its headquarters in Belmopan; and hopefully there are no negative repercussions down the road. At the Congress were the candidates contesting seats on the Executive (see below), the 21 voting representatives (14 from the 7 district associations, and 7 from the PLB), 2 Electoral Committee representatives, and a few administrative personnel and Police Officers ensuring social distancing and wearing of masks.
Our sources indicate that the regular agenda with all the speeches was deferred, by an overwhelming vote of members, to an Extraordinary Congress at a later date; so, Saturday’s Congress went straight into elections. Only a Thank You speech was made by re-elected President, Sergio Chuc, after the vote.
According to FFB Communications Director, Yashmin Juan, contesting seats for the FFB executive at Saturday’s Congress were the following: for President – Onan McLean and Sergio Chuc; for Vice President – Cruz Gamez, Jordan Zabaneh, Eugene Cleland and Dean Flowers; for Female Member – Jacqueline Pelayo, Karol Maldonado and Georgina Zabaneh; for Members – Marlon Kuylen, Shane Orio, Hilberto Muschamp and Patrick Flores.
And the results? The new FFB Executive for the period 2020-2024 are: President (re-elected) – Sergio Chuc; Vice-President (re-elected) – Cruz Gamez; Female Member – Jacqueline Pelayo; Members – Shane Orio and Marlon Kuylen.
Jacqueline Pelayo is a first time executive member, Shane Orio is serving his second consecutive term, while Marlon Kuylen is on his fourth consecutive term as a part of the FFB Executive. (FIFA mandates a female member of the Executive.)
From our sports desk, congratulations and good luck to the newly elected FFB Executive!